Creating an Academic Resume

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An academic resume is an important tool used to elevate your application packet.  This is the one instance where its ok to “brag” about your accomplishments!  

In a competitive academic market, many students find themselves lost in the shuffle, especially when other applicants have similar academic histories. Academic and extracurricular activities are what set you apart from the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other candidates vying for the same seat in college that you really want. Admission directors know that past achievement usually predicts future performance. They also know that achievers are self-starters, motivated, and an asset to their school.

Remember, admission directors have dozens of resumes to review on a daily basis. In that sea of paper, accomplishments are what capture and retain their interest, so to make certain that you get noticed, highlight your academic honors, awards and accomplishments. 

What is an accomplishment?
Accomplishments are relevant honors, achievements or awards that you earned for exceeding average standards in either academics, athletics, or in a work environment. Some examples of accomplishments are:

– Scholarships

– Honor Roll inclusion for high grades

– Awards won for specific activities or subjects (i.e. Best Dancer, Most Valuable –Player (MVP), Distinguished Art Award)

– Inclusion in student-related achievement publications (i.e.: Who’s Who in American High Schools)

– Perfect attendance awards

– Work related awards (i.e.: Top Sales Performer)

– Promotions to leadership positions in your job (i.e.: Shift Supervisor)

– Volunteer related awards (i.e.: Volunteer of the Year)

As you can see, the key is to provide an admissions director with relevant academic honors and achievements that highlight your particular background. Be sure to include other honors and awards as you see fit. 

What is not an accomplishment?
Any regular activity that does not include attainment of an award, scholarship, or other means of recognition should not be listed as an accomplishment since your ability to be extraordinary has not been measured by an organization.

Examples:

– Performing daily tasks correctly

– Promptness for meetings

– Being congenial or friendly

– Attending school on a daily basis

Describing your accomplishments
When describing honors, awards, or accomplishments on your resume, it is important to maximize the use of language and wording in order to get your point across in the strongest way.
Keep the following tips in mind:

Avoid writing vague self-serving statements on your student resume by using quantifying data. 

Weak: 
High School Senior with good grades

Strong: 
High School Senior consistently named to the Honor Roll, 2000-2004 Member of the National Honor Society

Avoid accomplishments that have nothing to do with your future career goal, your current job search, or those that do not enhance your candidacy.  

Don’t use: 
Beauty contest “Miss Congeniality” winner

Use: 
Won Award at High School Science Fair, 2002

Be specific with details to capture and retain interest. 

Weak: 
Won Award for Best Art.

Strong: 
Earned Excellence Award for Art Work (pen & ink drawings), 2008-2010 

Weak: 
Helped customers in showroom.

Strong: 
Increased sales by $5,000 during summer by helping clients in showroom. This resulted in sales to 8 out of 10 customers.

Featuring honors, awards, and accomplishments on your resume

Accomplishments, no matter how stellar, will do little to enhance your chances of getting into school unless they are properly showcased in your student resume or entry-level resume. If you bury them within your general academic information they may not be seen. Remember, admissions directors have many resumes to review. If it’s hard for them to find important information on your resume, they may pass on your candidacy.

You should emphasize your academic, work or volunteer recognitions by creating a specific honors, awards, and accomplishments section of your resume. Make sure to provide the following details when including your accomplishments:                           

 – Date of recognition or award
 
 – Purpose of award and accomplishment it recognizes (i.e.:Academic, athletic, job related)

 – Significance of award (i.e.: What did you have to accomplish?
 are you the only one who received the award? )

 – Scope of the award (i.e.: National, regional, or local)

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